1. To see a perspective you’ve never seen on television or in movies before
2. If you’ve ever wondered what the madness is like in a Sri Lankan household
3. To see a dark comedy that will make you laugh and make your heart swell
4. To get a real insight into what a day in the life of an emergency department doctor is like
5. To support a first time independent playwright (Aran Thingsatrandom) and production written for and made in Melbourne
The Aussie Ethnic Identity Crisis is on at TIC: Swanston Sept 21 – 29
1. Everyone gets free popcorn!
2. It’s cheaper than a movie ticket.*
3. We’ve built a sketch show about movies that you can understand if you’ve seen every single sketch show and movie, or if you’ve never seen a sketch show or a movie.
4. It’s shorter, funnier and – dare we say – less depressing than Waiting for Godot. It also has very little to do with it.
5. It’s a fast-paced, bizarre journey set entirely in a cinema snack bar, so this is where you can get your silly this Fringe!
* not including cheap-ass Tuesday’s or Monday’s at Nova but our show isn’t on those days.
Caitlyn Staples and Scott Limbrick perform Waiting for Combo at TIC: Swanston from Sept 12 – 20
1. Because we are trying to sneak in a real life knife into the show
3. Penis beaks in bike shorts
4. We spent most of our budget on new wigs, come see the wigs!
5. Because our last show won Best Comedy when we did Melbourne Fringe in 2017 so maybe this one will be good too!
The Travelling Sisters perform Thy Thus ‘Twas at Trades Hall from Sept 12 – 20
By Colin Flaherty
The blurb for Straight White Knight promised so much. John the Knight was going to “slay privilege, rescue nonbinary royalty, and escape the chokehold of toxic masculinity.” What we got was a socially inept man-child beating his head against a wall with misguided attempts to woo a woman. There’s the possibility that Oliver Cowen was trying convey deeper meaning through symbolism but I certainly didn’t pick up on it.
Groundhog Day loomed large in this performance with our hero going through his daily routine, day after day after day, while trying different techniques to woo a lover while his dreams were haunted by a sinister bear that ridiculed him. Things rapidly broke down and the routines went to shit as John got frustrated. Increasingly gross stunts were performed to repulse and garner laughs at their inappropriateness, but the stakes didn’t increase and there was no character growth. Even though this knight finally found love, it was unclear how he achieved it and why.
Cowen’s silent clowning act was a bit of a shambolic performance that suited the character perfectly. His fumbling for props and stomping around like a needy toddler was amusing enough but the repetition of it did get a bit tiresome. The anticipation of what he would do next was enough to maintain our interest but you had to get through a lot of OCD routines to get there. This act became more like a duration performance art piece rather than a comedy show.
Audience participation was a large part of this show – some tasked with managing props while others played the object of his affection. A large portion of the humour came from the nervous titters and the discomfort as Sir John gazed into punters eyes. There were times where it was unclear how he wanted audience members to play along, but it seemed that our gut reactions were the correct ones and the result was always the same.
Lighting and sound / music cues were great in indicating the time of day and also showing us Sir John’s state of mind. These added immensely to this wordless performance and the title cards of salutations were a cute touch.
Cowen gets several hundred brownie points for creating a show that is accessible for a deaf audience and props for his sheer ambition. We know that festival blurbs are written months ahead of actual show creation but it’s a shame that he barely scratched the surface in his exploration of masculinity.
Straight White Knight is on at Bellville until September 23
By Colin Flaherty
A show about “Draining the Swamp” may set up expectations for a tale of sweeping governmental change ala Trump but, despite a little bit of political posturing and low level bureaucracy, this play saves its swamp analogy for the toxicity of keeping dark, personal secrets. Writers Rose Bishop and Elyce Phillips have created a wonderfully kooky world inhabited by some strange individuals who may appear somewhat normal on the surface but have some sliminess underneath, just like their beloved swamp.
The characters were a bunch of oddballs that were all played as broadly as possible. Lukas Quinn as Fergus the Public Servant was brilliant as the straight man reacting to all the weirdness going on around him with flair. Taylor Griffiths portrayed the dim witted dentist Lucy with wonderful naivety. The historian played by Millie Holten was note perfect exaggerated outrage and pedantry, even throwing in some great slapstick. Prue Blake as the Mayor was kooky enough as a self-obsessed sexual predator but not as bold or physical as you would expect from such a role. Pedro Cooray’s Spiritual Healer was given the least to do and his performance was a little shakey but his few words gave off a nice aloofness for such a shady character.
Setting this play in one location was a great move as it avoided any clumsy scene changes and allowed the action to flow in real time, keeping the laughs rolling as the strangeness escalated. A technical hiccup threatened to derail things but the bizarre nature of it fitted with this universe and the improvisational skills of the cast added some additional chuckles. The plot itself wasn’t particularly fast moving with plenty of witty circular conversation stalling the action but spouting many hilarious lines to keep us laughing. Each dirty secret reveal mainly served as a device for adding more jokes rather than raising the stakes. Lovers of straight theatre may grumble over the lack of character growth and consequences but this was essentially some fluffy fun with a bunch of kooky characters.
Things We Found In The Swamp is on at The Courthouse Hotel until September 16
By Colin Flaherty
Upon entry, we were welcomed on board the space ship Yonder by the crew. Bound for an unspecified planet to escape a dying Earth, we were in the “capable” hands of Captain Davie (Elizabeth Davie), First Officer Doruk (Ezel Doruk) and Engineer Lim (Shannan Lim). From the first cabin announcement, we knew that we were in for a crazy voyage – that being a space drama of romance, action, treachery and ravenous space squids.
Serious themes such as environmental catastrophe and immigration got glancing mentions in the voice over and plot but the main attraction was the absurd hijinks of the crew, their fight against a common foe and each other. At times it felt as if they were heading into deliberate parody of certain recognisable Sci-Fi scenes but this mash up of many tropes kept us on our toes. They even crammed in some clever jokes about the airline industry and gender roles.
A deliberately lo-fi production, there were plenty of ingenious solutions to portray this tale with as much detail as possible. Adding extra characters to this three hander involved dashing between positions and concealing costumes which added to the insanity. The cast bounced off each other seamlessly and gave knowing glances to the audience when props and gestures were particularly silly. The crowd were more than happy to suspend their disbelief and played their part as passengers when required.
This trio showed off their considerable clowning skills with budget action sequences that rivalled those of early Star Trek and Doctor Who. Tossing themselves about the stage and miming their way through scenes, this was played as broadly as possibly for maximum laughs. The pace wasn’t as swift as you would expect for such an action packed story. Strange distractions and mundane interactions between the crew were taking place while more pressing plot points were at hand. Fortunately these were hilarious by being totally off the wall or served to contrast the ridiculousness of the situations with the matter of fact crew responses.
The Yonder was a wonderfully silly space romp that was immense fun.
The Yonder is on at Lithuanian Club – The Loft until September 30